Picture of Turn An Electric Motor Into a Pickup!
Most toys/gadgets/walkmans/tape players/electronic object that needs something to move will have a motor of some kind inside it. These can be easily turned into pickups thusly...

In this demonstration I made a very basic instrument construction just to show how the pickup is used. I will talk about this in the last step. How you adapt your own version to your instrument depends entirely on your imagination!

Step 1: The Motor

Picture of The Motor
Take off the plastic backing on the motor, the inside will look a bit like this, with the magnets around the edge and the coils around an axle in the middle.
PEOPLE ! You have to check out this man's blog at the link above. The most inventive instruments EVER !!!!
offtandiscord (author)  Lectric Wizard2 years ago
Haha, cheers dude!
ke4mcl2 years ago
way cool! love it!
ccoslor2 years ago
It works! Thank you dude, great instructable and simple to follow. I used this and a few other instructables for my weekend project:

offtandiscord (author)  ccoslor2 years ago
Derp. I was reading the comment on my phone and didn't see the link, nice work!
ccoslor2 years ago
I fixed it! The solution: the brushes were bent out of shape (the metal contacts that connect the motor to the terminals). I actually had another motor and replaced the backing. Works great now! I just need to tune it...
offtandiscord (author)  ccoslor2 years ago
Hurrah! Well done! I was going to ask if the wire was definitely conductive, and if so try adding stronger magnets to increase the sensitivity. Glad you got it going. Would love to see the results!
ccoslor2 years ago
I'm trying to troubleshoot this, not sure if the wire is a bad choice, or if there's something wrong with the motor. The wire for the string is florist's wire (the green stuff, 24 gauge). The motor is just a normal 9v motor like the one you used. I noticed the motor wire is uninsulated, not sure if that would mess it up. I have it hooked to a preamp made from a cassette player (I need to link to the instructable I based it on), then to a computer speaker, so I am able to determine that my connections are good because I get pops and noise if I touch any bare metal from the preamp up to the motor terminals. And if I move the guitar string around so it touches the inside of the motor guts, I get a little noise. Something is going on but I cant get any induction.
ccoslor2 years ago
I'm curious about making a pickup with more than one string. Would you use multiple motors, and wire them all together? Like 3 motor pickups with 2 strings in each, the three red wires soldered to one terminal of the socket, three black wires soldered to the other terminal?
offtandiscord (author)  ccoslor2 years ago
I've not had time to play around with multiple motors yet, although I do intend to.

I would imagine it would be better to wire the motors up in series rather than in parallel (like how you suggested) to create one continuous loop.

I could be wrong! The best thing to do (as always) is experiment!
FLIPminoman2 years ago
That one-string musical instrument is called a 'Diddly Bow." There are a few of them around but I never saw one with an electric motor for a pickup before. :)
Edgar2 years ago
Fantastic! :)
If this won't interest kids on Science, nothing will...
I daresay, this is Mindsets material, talk to them:

Went to my Blog:
Ian Fowler2 years ago
spring reverb would b good to make from this
rimar20002 years ago
Awesome fidelity of the sound. Very good idea!
flashj2 years ago
Oh that's what you meant by 'pickup!' I saw it out of context and couldn't figure out how you got from point A to point B.
excellent instructable!
csherrit flashj2 years ago
I always thought a spinner was a girl .
Kevanf1 flashj2 years ago
I too wondered what a 'pick up' was. I suppose if you are musically inclined you know straight away :) It would be like me saying I'll show you how to make a spinner. To some they'd think hub cap spinner on a car. Somebody else would think of some other sort of spinner while I would actually mean a fishing lure spinner :)

Anyway, to the 'ible'. Fantastic mate, well done. This is truly 'Instructable' thinking outside of the box to use something for another purpose than it was initially designed.
Remember the old "Norwegian 4 Bar Spinners" with a blue & white background.? It's a shame JC Whitney don't still carry them for restorers.
inkfzz Kevanf12 years ago
hahaha, so true. i was thinking of the part in pinball machines. "spinners"
studleylee2 years ago
Novel idea!!! Very cool!!
DeeRilee2 years ago
I am NOT AT ALL musically inclined! And this is still VERY cool!
bahi2 years ago
mr.frob2 years ago
I have soooo many DC motors lying around and no idea what to do with them all... I might have to give this a try!
offtandiscord (author)  mr.frob2 years ago
I've had ideas for a while to make a zither type instrument with lots of strings and multiple motor/pickups. You can get at least 2 strings per motor, or 4 if you have two pairs very very close together!
Monty^2 years ago
Agree with Lectric Wizard; the blog is a Must-See. Bookmarked and will view later.
kdf.inc19692 years ago
silly me....this country boy was actually thinking about a toy pickup with 4 wheels not musical orientated. nice instructable going to check out the others on link.
billbillt2 years ago
zomfibame2 years ago
My bad hahha
very good instructable and its effect is also good
Stone_UFO2 years ago
that's awesome!
muhahaha2 years ago
Is that a whamola? :D
offtandiscord (author)  muhahaha2 years ago
Nope! Just a string on a stick, it's not really any instrument other than a demonstration of how the pickup works...
VERY COOL ! Imagine the bass you could build with a few of those treadmill motors ...
offtandiscord (author)  Lectric Wizard2 years ago
A pretty heavy bass! I've used the motor parts from desk fans in a few other projects, they work pretty well too!
How does it sound? (A video would be sweet!)
offtandiscord (author)  expensivenoodle2 years ago
Check step 4!
lennyb2 years ago
very nice
Kiteman2 years ago
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